By: Chrysa Smith
Welcome to Hershey, Pennsylvania–where the air smells sweet and at every stop in town, someone is handing you chocolate bars, kisses and the potential to pack on some pounds.
I arrived for a conference. Not very exciting stuff. But with some hours to kill, I dragged my husband back to the Hershey tour–something we hadn’t done since my son was a little boy (now 23). And sweet, fattening chocolate bar! Has the place evolved. Keeping up with times, the Hershey empire now includes an interactive 4D movie, where you get sprinkled with water, blown in the face with wind, smell the sweet cocoa smell piped in and of course, try to grab the evil chocolate-stealing characters and their little minions that pop up in your face. You can put on a hair net and white lab coat and enter the chamber where you create your own chocolate masterpiece. Or, the all time keeper, jump in one of the moving cars and take a ride through the process of making chocolate. Upon exiting each exhibit, you get ===wait for it——more chocolate.
But it’s hardly the only game in town. You can visit the Hershey Museum where you learn all about the man who built the empire. A man who adored his wife, took care of his employees and envisioned a world full of chocolate. A world that now hauls in thousands of pounds of sugar, milk from local dairies, peanut butter, pretzels, nuts and all the other accoutrements that make their products so darn good.
Hershey has an interesting background. Founder Milton actually hired workers during the depression, started a school for orphan boys, bought a sugar plantation in Cuba and built a town. It is said that his wife was his soul mate, and when her health prohibited them from having children, they began the school for orphan boys. And from the picture I saw, there was no shortage. After his wife passed away, he became so distraught, he mourned for an extended time, then threw himself back into his work until he passed away in his 80’s.
If you’re in town, check out the Hershey Museum which tells you more. And if that’s not exciting enough, bop on into Hershey Park, where the latest roller coasters make you want to hold off on that chocolate indulging until after the ride. And their water park comes complete with cabanas that make you want to stay for the day and feel like you’re surf-side instead of land-locked.
For an elegant ending to the day, stop at the Hotel at Hershey. It’s one of the most unexpected, elegant places you can find in a very small town. Old world elegance and charm surround you, and some of the highlights include sitting on the outdoor patio with a glass of wine, rocking in a chair overlooking the town. Or for some real indulgence, have more chocolate—on the body at their spa. And when you need to walk off some of that chocolate, head down the road to the Tanger Outlets for a little shopping therapy.
I just unpacked yesterday and while I had the willpower to avoid the outlets, I now have a collection of chocolate bars to put away or hide. You never know when that moment hits and you need a few kisses to sustain you for just one sweet moment more.
Hershey, PA is located in Central PA, less than a two hour drive from Philadelphia. Check it out for a day trip or overnight at: http://www.hersheys.com/visit-us.aspx.